Indigenous Experts Discuss Culture, Language, Health and More with Students

Badge: 2018-23 Strategic Plan: Priority 2Throughout the month of November, faculty, staff and students at Bemidji State University joined together to pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans during National Native American Heritage Month.

Featured speakers throughout the month included Charles Grolla, Byron Ninham and Leslie Harper. Grolla, a local educator at the Cass Lake-Bena school district, led a conversation about Ojibwe culture and language on campus. Ninham, principal of Nayahshing 6-12 school in Vineland, Minn., spoke to students about how sports can shape the life of an American Indian athlete. Finally, Harper, a Native American educator and director of a language immersion program for Ojibwe children, discussed indigenous food, land and health.

Bemidji, named after the Ojibwe word meaning “Lake that traverses another body of water” is fortunate to experience a dynamic local culture and history, located between the three largest American Indian Nations in Minnesota – Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth. Bemidji State is home to American Indian students from across Minnesota and its neighboring states, as well as from New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Canada. The month-long celebration is a time to recognize the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Native American people and to acknowledge the important contributions they have made and continue to make in our current world.


Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding. For more, visit or find us at BemidjiState on most of your favorite social media networks.